France will boost its troops presence in the Central African Republic by the end of the year under a forthcoming U.N. resolution to help prevent the country from spiraling out of control, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
According to Al-Jazeera, Fabius and the European Union’s aid chief, Kristalina Georgieva, are in the country to drum up support and international interest for a largely forgotten crisis.
“We will increase our support especially in the logistics domain after United Nations resolutions (are approved). We will also increase troops, a little at first. This will be done before the end of the year,” Fabius said on Sunday.
France currently has about 400 troops in Bangui, protecting the airport and French interests. Fabius did not say how many troops will be added, but sources have told Reuters the numbers could be increased to about 700-750.
The Central African Republic has descended into chaos since the Seleka rebel group ousted President Francois Bozize in March, the latest coup in a country that remains one of the world’s poorest despite resources ranging from gold to uranium.
Unlike some of its other colonies in Africa, France has had a poor relationship with CAR since independence in 1960, and has been reluctant to get directly involved in the crisis, urging African nations to do their utmost to resolve it, according to a report on Reuters.com.
The African Union has responded by deploying about 2,500 troops as part of its 3,600-strong MISCA mission, made up of forces from Chad, Gabon, Congo Republic and Cameroon.
But its material, logistic and financial resources are limited, prompting Paris to seek a U.N. Security Council mandate that would address that and turn MISCA into a U.N. peacekeeping force ultimately supported by French troops.
“It’s not obvious, because CAR doesn’t interest anybody. People hardly know where it is, and if we don’t do it then nobody will,” said another French diplomat, according to the report.
The immediate objective is to minimize the level of support Paris has to give by ensuring that collectively Africa, the United Nations, EU and France act together.
It also wants transitional president and former Seleka leader Michel Djotodia to completely disassociate himself from the rebels and abide by an 18-month timeline to elections.
“We’re not looking for new interventions here or there. It’s not for France to solve the crisis. It’s no longer our role to be Africa’s policeman,” said a senior French official, Reuters reported.